Ethics of the online resume

Just because we can easily change our digital profiles, doesn't mean we should.

June 7, 2022


Design education

Ethics of the online resume

Another title of this essay could be“I Love Technology, Really” because when ever someone criticizes technology the responding comment is “you don’t get it.". So, let’s be clear, I love technology.

I love being able to update our portfolio on the web; I love being able to speak to our clients and friends on our blog, instantly; I love that my voice has the potential of reaching a large audience, when I chose. And of course, I love my iPhone.

But like anything new, whether it is the newest kitchen tool or the newest technology, it’s the human being behind the tool who is the concern. A knife can be used to cut vegetables or a finger. Technology can be used for good purposes or questionable. I don’t dislike Facebook for teenagers because the coding is harmful. I dislike Facebook for immature teenagers because of the really stupid things they post.

Now, on to LinkedIn

I like LinkedIn. I like the way it works; I like its balance between not too much info, not too little; I like being able to follow colleagues and find new ones. I use it all the time. But again – it’s the human beings who are inputting the information on LinkedIn that are the concern.

When resumes were on paper a person on the job hunt would go to the local print shop and have their resume typeset. They would pick out a parchment paper – beige or light blue. Select a typeface – serif or san serif. The printer would run off 50 copies and put them in a bag. On the way home, the job hunting individual would be very careful not to wrinkle the resumes, thereby making them unusable.

Something about these printed resumes made them feel like legal documents. Perhaps it was the parchment paper? A person would not lie on a legal document — AKA, resume. It would be wrong to overstate your abilities; to be awarded a job you were not qualified for. There would be shame associated with being fired from a position because you overstated your experience or stretched the tenure at a past employerl. Plus, and probably most importantly, if you got caught, you would have to go back to the print shop to print more resumes — painful.

On LinkedIn the lying is rampant. 70% of resumes contain lies. The updating of “experience” and “expertise” happens daily. Monday a person is “director of sales”, Tuesday they are a “technology expert” and Wednesday a “nation-wide published journalist”. How does a person acquire this expertise in 24 hours?

A strange changing of time occurs. Who says we can’t relive the past? The past is changed, updated, rearranged every minute on LinkedIn. An employee leaves a job in April but continues to work there until August. Employment of 4 years changes to 6 years and the next day reduces to 3 years? Then suddenly, they never worked there at all.

I don’t have an answer.  I shake my head when I encounter obviously “living in their own world” entries on the Web. I revisit my own LinkedIn page to ensure I am being honest and forthcoming (as our mothers taught us, omission is a form of lying). And most of all, I do my homework. I use technology to research potential employees, business partners and clients.

I love technology.

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